Playing with Henna Patterns

The eight pointed star is  major theme in all forms of Moroccan Art, from rugs, to textiles, to tiles. Henna tattoos are no different. So the first motif I worked with is the eight pointed star.  I decided to do the practice stitches using perle cotton #5 in two shades of reddish brown (like the henna color) on ecru 18 ct mono canvas. Outlining the star was easy – all stitches go over 8 threads using the darker color. 


Then I filled in some of the spaces with the lighter color. I know that doing straight stitches for the outside triangles won’t cover well, but this is practice and I want to find out what works and what doesn’t work. I like the star outlined in the darker color, but the lighter color doesn’t seem to offer enough contrast. The  next version I’ll use a lighter shade.

I don’t like the center. I did a square on point – over 4 threads with the dark color. It’s filled in with the lighter shade done in basketweave. Originally, I wanted to do another decorative stitch on top of the center, but that won’t work with this version. So it’s time for some more playing.



The straight stitches don’t look good with perle #5 straight stitches. I tried doing them with slanted stitches, using two small triangles for each of the larger triangles. This looks much better, but now there’s no room for the dark stitch outline. Then I tried a second version of this with the dark thread outline and then filling in with the lighter color (on the bottom of this photo). This looks better, but may not be the final version.







Then I needed to play with the center to find a better solution. I tried a Rhodes stitch in the lighter color. This looks better but I think it add too much texture, height, to the motif. I think this stitch would dominate the star and it’s the star that should be the focus point.

Next I tried a large Smyrna Cross. I think this looks better, but I’m not sure how it will look inside the whole motif. Time to go play some more.

4 responses to “Playing with Henna Patterns

  1. As always, it is awesome to watch you do this. I like to use the Perle #3 for upright stitches, as it covers better – or if you don’t like the ropy twist, just use 8 plies of cotton floss. I love the “henna” colors you chose. I hope you will post often about this – My mind doesn’t work this way, and I love watching it evolve. As for the texture and height of the rhodes stitch, again I think you might like working with floss better. Less texture and it lies flatter – you would use 6 plies for this stitch.

  2. Fun experiments! What if you started with a diamond eye, but finished it over top like a Rhodes or Smyrna? Maybe that would give the effect without the height?

  3. Of course it also depends on the use of the final product–snag possibilities?? The colors are great, and I liked the hourglass effect you produced, then outlined in the darker perle. Isn’t so much of NP trial and error?

  4. Your work is fascinating!! I can’t get over that Moroccan carpet!!!

    I would love to know if you find any good sources of info on Moroccan Berber carpets, esp symbols and their meaning (BTW, I love the henna page too!)

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